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A mixed bag - very good action scenes and likeable, noble characters but also poor scenario and weak dialogs
on 21 January 2013
I really wanted to love this film about US Navy SEALs, but I was ultimately slightly disappointed. Below, I will try to explain more in detail why it happened. This review contains some limited SPOILERS.
To begin with the good stuff, the action scenes in this film were VERY good. There are three major fights in "Act of valor" and they are really impressive, filmed in a way as realistic as possible, in a style reminding a little of "Blackhawk down". Absolutely nothing to criticize there.
Although I am not exactly an expert of the thing, considering that US Navy closely collaborated in making of this film and some real ex-Navy SEALs played in it, I believe that the description of weapons, equipments, vehicles and tactics was as close to the reality as it was possible without revealing too much of professional secrets - and indeed, this film has a feeling of "real stuff". Once again, nothing to criticize here.
I also agree with the ideology of this film and its martial message. There are indeed evil people out there who either want to make money of other people's suffering (like drug traffickers) or want to murder other people just because they do not share their beliefs (like islamic extremists) - and if their threat becomes too serious to ignore they must be taken out (killed or captured) by those who defend civilized societies, which means mostly professional soldiers and spies, acting on orders and under the control of constitutionally legitimate political power. Period.
However, even with all the above, I didn't enjoy this film as much as I hoped, mostly because of a very weak scenario. Without revealing too much, I must say that all the intelligence gathering and planning aspects of operations in this film seemed to be expedited in the fastest possible way, whereas in the real world they are both crucial elements of art of war - and if well filmed, thay can be pretty interesting on screen.
Also, for the life of me I can not understand why the criminals (weapons and drug traffickers) were so eager to join with terrorists in the plot against United States. Money is earned to be enjoyed and if you are dead, your fortune is of no use - or being part of a really huge terrorist attack against the world leading superpower offers poor prospects of survival.
I found it also strange, that, maybe by an excess of politically correct precautions, in this film no bad guys from radical islamic organisation were Arabs but instead were Moros from southern Philippines led by a Russian converted to islam...
Finally, to finish with the criticism, considering that most of SEALs are played by real ex-SEALs and not by professional actors, it is hardly fair to criticize their acting, even if it is really not so great... But there can be no excuses for the scenarist who wrote the dialogs, which are so atrociously boring that in the second part of the film I really hoped that somebody will start shooting, just to not hear them anymore. I ultimately fast forwarded some conversations just before the great final raid.
The ending, on another hand, was pretty moving and I fully agree with its message - we must be grateful to those who labour, suffer and risk their lives so we, simple citizens, can enjoy our life and freedom without fear.
I do not regret that I bought and watched this film, but I definitely didn't like it as much as "Blackhawk down" and I do not think I will keep my DVD. Still, it is worth to be watched once, for the great action scenes. Enjoy!